Mayor Daley of Chicago is planning to put a surveillance camera on every corner to aid first responders and deter terrorism. As I’ve said before
cameras don’t deter terrorism, but they do satisfy the need to “do
something” without really improving security. Police officers prevent
attacks with traditional investigation and intelligence gathering;
cameras are only useful in picking up the pieces after the attack is
My colleague Jim Harper is cited in this piece that addresses their utility in more detail. Cameras didn’t stop the 7/7 bombings in London, but they took lots of pictures of the attack (creepy Big Brother shots here). The London police doubled down on mass surveillance, but reported that the cameras have not reduced crime. Worse yet, the British have effectively outlawed taking photos of police officers, prompting photo protests.
Chicago isn’t the first major American city to take this route. New York did so, as did the District of Columbia. The cameras in D.C. have not prevented crime, and this piece
makes the case that they are a waste of resources - no one can point to
a prosecution that used the camera footage to obtain a conviction, and
several murders have been committed within a block of a surveillance
Surveillance cameras can and should play a prominent role in law
enforcement - mounted on officers’ firearms. A company is now
producing a camera that attaches to the tactical rail found on modern pistols and rifles. A New York county has invested in the technology
for its officers, and their experience looks promising. Putting a
camera on the guns of SWAT officers will keep them honest and prevent
falsification of evidence after the fact to cover up a mistaken address
or unlawful use of lethal force.
Mayor Cheye Calvo can attest to these horrors, as detailed in a recent Washington Post Sunday Magazine cover story, this Cato Policy Report, and this Cato Policy Forum, “Should No-Knock Police Raids be Rare-or Routine?” Click here
for video - Mayor Calvo calmly captures the raw shock of having your
life turn into a tactical problem for a SWAT team to solve, and he is
now advocating for a Maryland state statute to mandate tracking the deployment of tactical law enforcement teams. As Radley Balko would tell you, this is long overdue.
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